(AV17884) Art and Politics: Cultural Activism in a Time of Crisis

(AV17884) Art and Politics: Cultural Activism in a Time of Crisis


and it’s a real pleasure to be here what
an outstanding turnout Iowa State has has for me I wanted to thank the Kristin
Petersen museum and Iowa State University for inviting me here in
conjunction with the Andy Magee show at the Museum which I had the pleasure of
seeing this afternoon it is a really wonderful show I recommend it to all of
you it’s got a lot of interesting interactions between media and image and
political points so definitely get to that exhibition my my title tonight
is the subtitle of my current book as mentioned by Kara Hardy politics now and
the previous book that I wrote art and politics in the 1930s is really about
the same subject and so since I left the now off the title I’m taking the
opportunity to start with a little historical perspective and then we will
look at current political issues among artists working today so I’ll go ahead
and start with a couple of quotes and there was a young man in the front row
whom I said I would quote who said to me as we were sitting Oh art and politics I
didn’t think they had anything to do with each other and I said well you’re
in the right place to learn about it so Anita Brenner in the 1930s a very
important critic in my 1930s book said the issue of whether art should
emphasize the realities and tragedies of the world or should soothe an enchant
with illusion is still before us and certainly that is true today and another
quote this is a current theorist a sociologist the most disputed border of
all is the one that separates the field of cultural production and the field of
power so that’s something for you to think about and I’ll come back to that
quote at the end of the lecture the field of cultural production which is
what all of us are involved within the field of power I understand that
President Obama was just here this week so maybe you were exposed to the field
of power this week so I’m going to start as I said with a
historical perspectives and then I will look at some of the artists of the 1930s
because they were certainly active in a time of crisis of some of the 1920s and
30s and then I will I will come to the president but the great artists of art
and politics who has never really been equal is is Francisco Goya the Spanish
artist and this particular work the sleep of Reason produces monsters again
could have been done yesterday it is an image and a term and an idea which is
very much where we are now and we have to think about why that is so by looking
at this going image Koya was an artist who is mainly known now in terms of his
series of the disasters of war I’m going to show you a couple of those done in
the early nineteenth century it’s very interesting that he was self-taught but
he worked at the Spanish court he was so incredibly talented and the subject of
the disasters of war is the invasion of Spain by Napoleon and the resistance of
the people of Spain the first guerrilla warfare and what he witnessed were the
atrocities which were being committed by all the people involved with this series
of guerrilla encounters this is one image no it can’t be helped and you see
one of the strengths of his images is that he isolates the figure in a
desolate environment so you’re not at all distracted by any of the scenery or
anything else all you see is this desperate figure who is blindfolded and
two other people and in the background you can see that some other people are
being shot and here are the guns which killed this man so he very close and
very boldly presents the the killings and then this image and this is worse
there were about 77 images in the disasters of war a horrendous image of
mutilation by by the mercenary soldiers whom you see in the background
so the disasters of war are still reference points for contemporary
artists which is why I’m starting with them
another artist of the 19th and early 20th century who is also a reference
point for contemporary artists is Katy kovetz and she also did printmaking now
I I’m not explaining technique very much in this lecture and I think since this
is a design program that you’re familiar with etching but the impact of these
black and white images is very powerful so this is an image of the rising up of
Weaver’s during the early stages of the Industrial Revolution the print was made
in the early 20th century but the subject matter you see the house of the
capitalist in the background and you see the Weaver’s who are protesting they
were working at home as individual Weaver’s making a living and in the age
of industrialization of course they started to have centralized factories
that produced work instead so they’re protesting that process of
industrialization and what they’re actually doing which is really quite
wonderful is tearing up the paving stones and throwing them through the
fence and so Katy kovetz his work is showing us this resistance of the
oppressed of workers against capitalism which of course is a theme that we still
have with us another work by kovetz about an even earlier uprising also
created in the early 20th century shows a heroic woman this was a 16th century
uprising by peasants and at that time peasants were used as they were used as
horses you know you see carts being pulled by people they were they were
incredibly oppressed and this is one of the early examples of oppressed people
rising up and in the foreground you see a woman a historical figure named Black
Anna who’s encouraging the peasants on their way and this is one of a series of
many works it shows the whole story of this particular uprising so Katy kovetz
whose parents were socialists and who lived in a very impoverished area of
Berlin really believed in the power of the poor
if they united and rose up she’s best known for her images of widows and
grieving women in war and these are very powerful images as well okay another
artist that now we’re jumping to the 20th century mid 20th century who is
very well known in terms of this particular work Picasso’s Guernica now
what you see here I have a sketch here to give you and I’ll come back to the
whole painting what you see here is an image based on an historical event
Guernica is the name of a town in Spain and it was bombed by the Germans in 1936
they were testing new warplanes the 36 World War one began in 13 I mean world
war 2 began in 1939 so in 1936 they were testing their new equipment and they
were allied with the fascists in Spain I’m not going to go into the whole
history of the Spanish Civil War but to say that the large bull in Picasso’s
work often represents fascism and you see the figure there in the sketch very
clearly bringing a light of enlightenment into the center of the
scene of brutality and here you see a horse being gored and the horse
represents humanity so let’s go back to the whole painting and you’ll see the
horse and the bull there are here and the figure bringing the light as well as
the people that have been bombed this is supposed to be the first example of an
aerial bombing of a civilian population 1936 and it shocked everybody the
painting was done on a commission and shown in Paris in 1937 at a fair in
Paris but it’s become a benchmark image you still see parts of it used in
anti-war demonstrations all over the world so this is a really famous example
and for those of you not familiar with the history of art modern art it’s a
cubist style which is why it’s all fragmented I may be you’re all familiar
with cubism you all have to take art history right
everybody know about cubism I don’t have to explain okay so that’s a very
important example now I’d like to mention a couple of other stages of
cultural activism before I go to the contemporary period because there are
many examples of artists working in conjunction with revolutionary impulses
and changing societies so in Mexico from 1910 to 1920 there was a revolution that
went on and on and on but in nineteen in the early 1920s you had a new government
that hired artists to declare a new society in Mexico a new society in which
everybody would receive land and everybody would be educated and
everybody would be given equal opportunity of course it didn’t happen
but they did hire the artists to try to spread the word and this revolutionary
union of technical workers painters and sculptors declared we proclaim that
since the social moment is one of transition between a decrepit order and
a new one the creators of Beauty must put forth their utmost effort to make
their production of ideological value to the people again it could have been
written yesterday perhaps so I’ll just give you a couple of examples of the
artists working at that period of time in this in this revolutionary union
this is Tina mudati a photographer and she was a modernist photographer you can
see a wonderful sense of abstraction in this work the way she’s photographed the
workers these are the hacks of the workers reading the revolutionary paper
of the of the Union that whose slogan I just read to you so at one of the same
time she’s giving you a beautiful photograph and she’s also giving you the
information that these workers are literate that they can read that they
are revolutionary that they’re reading the revolutionary paper so this is a
really brilliant example of an artist combining art and politics in 1920s
Mexico the other really famous artists from this period of time is Diego Rivera
anybody know who his wife is frida kahlo whom you more of you’ve
heard of perhaps then Diego Rivera although when Diego Rivera was working
in the 20s certainly nobody had heard of Frida Kahlo so you have here one of
hundreds of murals that Diego Rivera made in Mexico in response to this idea
of educating the people to the new society and what you see here the
decadent rich that is actually supported of Rivera they’re looking really
obnoxious the decadent rich and then you see the revolutionaries in the
background and you have this clear separation of those two worlds of the of
the sort of depraved greedy and the workers who are rising up in
revolutionary so I thought this was a particularly good example for these days
I would like to see this this four hundred murals he did in this one
building that relates to the subject you see the banner up above which had a
revolutionary song that went through all the murals this mural series is in
Mexico City so that’s Mexico in the 1920s and the
impulse of Mexico’s revolutionary art came to New York City all of the well
not all but the most famous Mexican artists Diego Rivera and Roscoe secured
us I can’t talk about all of them came to New York City and brought with them
this powerful impulse to be politically engaged so here we are in 1930s New York
is it possible to turn down the lights just a little more maybe because this
photograph is a little dark and I wanted to suggest to you first of all Lucien
block was one of Diego Rivera’s assistance in painting murals in the
United States he did fresco mural some of you may be familiar with that
technique it requires a lot of assistance and she was also a
photographer and multimedia artist and she made this photograph of a
demonstration and she had actually painted these signs
for the demonstration I knew her and did some articles about her before she died
so we have multiple layers of art and politics going on here on one hand you
have a demonstration and the demonstration included artists and
workers the next thing you have are them are the folk are the are the signs
themselves and notice how many different issues a Labour Party down with war 30
hour week etc all these different issues of represented and then you have an
artist herself in the March photographing it so you have many layers
of protest here’s another well-known artist Ben
Sean he’s a name you need to remember he’s a phenomenal artist I could do 30
lectures about just Ben Sean’s work and this is a photograph by Ben Sean he’s in
this March it’s a May Day March so of course it’s
supporting the Communist revolution on May Day and these are all artists in the
front of the March that he’s photographed and you can see all the
signs they’re carrying their revolution equal pay etc fight back against of this
and that and the you notice the way the people in the front of the line are
dressed look at what they’re wearing neckties suits isn’t that interesting
the idea of the work the worker artist is just beginning to emerge now and the
artists aren’t yet hanging out and blue jeans in the street this will come a
little bit later but it’s a very interesting moment and you can see how
he you know where was it he was standing right in the middle of this March
photographing photographing these people so the again the artists deeply engaged
now during this period of time in the 1930s I know you are familiar with it
here because you have these phenomenal Grant Wood murals and you also have the
a collection of art from this period artists were addressing specific issues
and this part of my goal in this lecture is to demonstrate that artists still are
addressing specific issues in a very vivid way I don’t have time to discuss
these in detail I’m just going to show them to you quickly Jacob Lawrence on
the right this is one of a series of 48 works that he created about the
migration of Africa Americans from the south to the north
but this one is about lynching with this incredibly poignant space of grieving
between the man and the news and the second one is also lynching
these were very pointed image it’s public health care by several artists
refugees homelessness by an artist named Mitchell sipper in who is unfortunately
not as well-known as it should be it’s sort of influenced by surrealism but
very readable very poignant deeply felt images the artist went out and observed
they experienced homelessness themselves they experienced eviction themselves
this is eviction these are all issues for today could have been done yesterday
the legal system been Sean’s famous protest of Sacco and Vanzetti I don’t
have time to tell you the story of Sacco and Vanzetti but if you buy my 1930s
book you can find out all about it religious fanaticism
this is father Coughlin who was a radio Evangelic old preacher who was you can
see was nutcase he’s got all sorts of interesting
details here you see that this detail right here he’s got his hand on the
money bag here pulled that one right out of Rivera okay so now we’ll come to the
present and well almost the present not quite the point I wanted to remind you
because I I know that history disappears very quickly just briefly of the
timeline of some of the things we’re dealing with today the first Gulf War in
1991 that’s almost 20 years ago right oh my gosh
before some of you were born huh some of you less than 20 years old um maybe not
1993 the first large protests of free trade agreements and were still dealing
with that 1995 Chiapas Mexico the Zapatistas the Zapatistas were named
after a group of people that were involved in the Mexican Revolution
Zapata was a famous revolutionary leader during the Revolution in Mexico so this
the zapatistas in Chiapas we’re saying what we still don’t have our land you
never did give it to us and so life continued to be full of resistance but
as you see the first to use internet technology and so that rebellion went
around the world in 1999 anti World Trade Organization meetings in Seattle
and the protests shut down the meetings whoops because of the rapid change in
technology I like to emphasize that in 1999 the way that the images of the
protests went on the internet which was existed but was certainly nothing like
it is today was in 30-second intervals with a webcam taped to a windowsill and
with a cord going across a room and extension cord and it was very very slow
it was there though and these are two images taken on two different days of
these protests starting very much like the protests we’ve seen in the last year
in a sort of camaraderie and then shut down by the police with tear gas so this
is the beginning point and it’s the idea of protesting world trade that oppresses
workers I’ll tell you a little more about the issues again the Zapatista
connection this was a person that had a whole series of images about this epic
ista uprising and the raucous society organized this huge banner in 1999 and
they’re still very active today in protests so a lot of the groups that we
see today had their birth in 1999 and a lot of them make use of our the rugged
society is particularly good at using art images now you may not say this is
particularly artist art artistic but from a design point of view I think it’s
pretty good now one artist who it was has always been involved as a
photographer in documenting the abuses of global trade is Alan sekolah and he
was at the protests in Seattle I’ll show you the pictures he took there on
but he had done for you see five years of whole documentation of the labor
conditions of global shipping he’d gone all over the world and he had worked on
talking to workers all over the world so that he was able to photograph this
change in the nature of global shipping as early as the early 1990s he went to
he took more than nine hundred photographs this series is called fish
story and of course fish story has lots of meanings right it can mean story
about fish it can mean what else it can mean well you know maybe not true all
these different ideas and in his imagery he doesn’t deal with drama no drama here
these are very very you might say boring images but he’s looking at the
dehumanization of shipping because these ports and these ships used to be alive
with people and now you see nobody and he saw the sea as a space for economic
commercial and social relationships but he was seeing the dehumanization of the
shipping so on the upper left you see a port nobody inside just machinery on the
upper right you see a port with one person and in the middle of the bottom
you see a container ship so Alan’s Akula had this exhibition up in Seattle at the
art gallery at the University of Washington during the protests against
the World Trade Organization and he went down to the protests and took a series
of pictures of which this is one of them called waiting for the tear gas the
title of the book in which these works appeared five days that shook the world
is a reference to the Russian Revolution book by John Reed the American
journalist called ten days that shook the world so in this
photograph you see the Union organized organized Union here
and you see a sense of this person almost celebratory connection between
them now these are not the dramatic images of famous celebrities and these
are these are just casual informal outside-of-the-box kind of contacts
between people what’s completely missing in the fish
story where the contacts have been eliminated and all its left is machinery
so he he wanted to catch those informal moments and I described this series in
more detail in my book okay let’s move forward from that to the September 11
and the I’m not going to talk much about it because that was a moment not a
protest but of morning and morning leads to a type of in immobility it’s it’s a
completely different kind of collective feeling than resistance this is probably
the most famous piece and I still think it’s one of the most successful this
amazing a memorial with huge lights shooting up from the bottom of New York
City in honor of the Lost World Trade Center towers so we’ll just leave that
one there but almost immediately there were protests that emerge because almost
immediately the government started talking about war and so this was one of
the early protests in Times Square against the war in Afghanistan which
began three weeks after 9-1-1 and it’s still with us today so this is a group
of people who went on to do a great many interventions in public spaces informal
groups of artists in New York City various names and I talked about them in
some detail in the book so let’s move forward now early 21st century the
Afghan war as I said February 15 2003 worldwide anti-war protest
March 19 2003 Iraq war begins fall 2004 Abu Ghraib tortures exposed by cellphone
technology and posted on the Internet fall 2008 financial crisis so these are
some of the huge events that occurred as the part of the background of the images
that you’re going to see I think the posting of images by cell phones on the
internet was one of the most dramatic shift power shifts we’ve had in the last
hundred years because suddenly journalists no longer control the story
everybody could tell the story and we’re seeing even more of that now more and
more and more of that so it was really amazing I remember the first time I saw
on the Internet soldiers in a war actually shooting people and there was
on the internet they’d taken these pictures themselves it was really weird
so because of the visual impact of this war all these wars you you’re seeing
visual artists very engaged with protesting them and this was one one
tactic that was used by the same group of artists that you saw on Times Square
in September 2001 they did a banner drop in the then in the Senate office
building in Washington DC as they were beginning a new session they they
dropped these amazing banners really brave people really gutsy and really
effective so that was one technique that they used
here’s another also very powerful they did a march through Washington DC with
masks and each person in the march was marked with a placard that names someone
that had died either in Iraq or Afghanistan or the US soldier or an
Iraqi or an Afghan and they just marched through the streets of the watching in
DC now moving forward again street tactics this is an organization that’s
done a lot of puppets and and things like that but again this I thought this
technique was particularly interesting and it this is just from last year
on projecting the message on to the Supreme Court in response to the
corporate personhood decision rights are for people it is a pretty
straightforward way to suggest a message and and this is the backbone campaign
it says backbone opposition on the label the backbone campaign they have a
website backbone org or something like that where they talk about how the
police were trying to outlaw light projections you know it’s an interesting
problem how do you outlaw light projections in spaces interesting so
other other responses to the war collective responses this is the just
seeds print cooperative a fantastic group of artists who produce this
portfolio and many other portfolios this one is called war is trauma and it’s a
series of about 35 prints in collaboration with the veterans of Iraq
and Afghan veterans against the war so that many of the print makers are also
Iraq and Afghan veterans so that meant meant that there was a very powerful
presence in these works based on their personal experiences and then of course
last year we had the collective protest of the Occupy movement and think too
that Rivera mural of the greedy capitalists and the revolutionary
opposition you know and here’s the contemporary version of the Occupy Wall
Street movement our collective uprising against greed and artists were
participating in this directly this is in Zuccotti Park in New York where an
artist was actually drawing the scene there and you can find his work online I
think he’s fabulous very detailed drawings and many many other artists I
was there and I talked to many different artists it was somebody that was cutting
up credit cards into sculptures and you know all sorts of different things were
going on and of course the whole event was just an amazing collective aesthetic
expression as well as a political expression today with the with the Occupy movement
you have a lot of separate actions going on and one of the ones that happened
last year that’s continuing is the protests of foreclosures and this was a
collaboration between artists and a group in Harlem marching through the
city with the building you can see this 477 it’s the address of the building
where’s that red thing lost it it’s here somewhere anyway there it is the address
of the building that was being foreclosed in Harlem and they marched to
the Museum of Finance down town and of course we’re not able to put their
artwork in it okay so let’s let’s move on to another subject those that’s
that’s all grassroots Collective resistance that I’ve been thinking about
usually a mixture of political activists and artists which is really an ideal
combination oh this guy was also at Occupy Wall Street he was from Australia
and he was making an individual protest about climate change with what he wore
with the signs that he carried and he had a whole bunch of big flags with all
sorts of slogans on them he was a total performance act all by himself here he
is addressing fracking and nuclear free every energy issue and as probably you
all know all of these issues are actively being protested as we speak you
know people are lying in the highways in Montana they’re lying in the streets and
Texas protesting all of these different aspects of climate change one of the
artist groups that has been addressing climate not climate ecological issues
for a long time is the Beehive collective is that in focus it is okay
I’m just so close to it I can’t see it here because their work is very detailed
I wouldn’t want it to be a big blur for you and the Beehive collective
works they live and work collectively to make these giant prints which they then
use as an educational tool and this particular print is called the true cost
of coal and this is just a small part of a huge print which you can see the
detail here is generally you can see this is being despoiled by these huge
giant frogs they often use insects as reference points in their work rather
than people but there their mission is to quote cross
pollinate the grass roots by creating collaborative works as educational and
organizing tools so they’d be great group to have here because they do a lot
of educational programming and then this is another work by them I think it’s a
little hard to see the work so I’ll move on another kind of work collaboration
with artists on environmental issues is is the physicians for Social
Responsibility in Washington State have been addressing Hanford may not be a
household word here anybody know what Hanford refers to not a household word
here anybody yeah it’s the nuclear facility in Washington State where all
the plutonium that’s ever been produced for any nuclear bomb starting with the
big boy in World War two and continuing up until whenever all of the plutonium
has been produced what’s going on there now is this ongoing problem of storage
and illness and pollution and so there was an exhibition in which artists
scientists poets writers collaborated on this subject and I’m just going to show
you one work which is an artist who lives in the region of Hanford which is
in central Washington State and 57 are confirmed leakers refers to the storage
area where they put all this toxic waste material there’s a hundred and fifty of
them and fifty-seven have definitely leaked into the ground and so I thought
this was a very effective image to make the story clear and that’s
one of the things I really look for is an aesthetic image that’s strong that
makes the point easily understood and this works I think very very well so
another artist who has addressed nuclear leakage and and pollution is the Native
American artist named Gayle Tremblay and this is a piece called it is heavy on my
heart and what you see here these are felt organs here these are all
representing different organs that have been contaminated with cancer and inside
of this one there’s a video playing which is interviews with tribal elders
from all over the West’s not just Washington State about the issue of
nuclear contamination nuclear storage on Indian reservations uranium extraction
in the Grand Canyon all of these different issues are included as well as
poets and writers and other storytellers so she’s using a sculptural installation
and a video to tell the story from a Native American point of view and then
on a humorous note I don’t know if you’ve heard of the yes men they’re on
the back cover of my book this is a what they call a survivable and in this in
this piece it’s the yes men intervene in corporate
culture on many different levels how many of you ever heard of the yes men
anybody yeah there’s somebody else this is actually a website you can go to it
and take a look which is pretending to be the corporate solution to climate
change because they’ve created this huge thing that has everything you need for
life to continue and therefore you don’t need to worry about climate change so
they had a performance in downtown Seattle and you can see it’s around
Christmas time in which they promoted this ridiculous story but the yes men
have been very active in collaborating with various other groups like
this summer yes they’ve turned themselves into the yes lab so they have
in New York City they have a lab where activists and artists can get together
and learn strategies for intervening in public media in order to address certain
kinds of issues and this one is about the shale Arctic oil drilling and this
was a spoof video I wish I could insert the video for you to see but anyway you
can see it’s pretty spoofy already with these muscled men they had a spoof which
people didn’t realize was a spoof where they got some people from Seattle
occupied to participate and they collaborated also with Greenpeace go to
the Greenpeace website they’re really amazing and they they had a spoof of the
launch of this Arctic drilling rig as it was going to get ready to go to go to
the Arctic that shale was having this big celebration they did a little
miniature rig which was supposed to be imitating the big rig and when it was
turned on its spewed oil but it was champagne all over the room all over
everybody this is sort of the prelude here the iceberg with the shell logo but
what was amazing is that it got all over the Internet as a real shell thing until
shell got in and said no no no and this is the s men’s great talent is to create
these spoofs that look real and upstage the corporate press so I urge you to
look at their website okay let’s see artist’s address police states the
subject of course has been around since Goya and Leon Gallup is somebody that is
not in my book but I felt that I really needed to honor his work from the 1980s
in the 1980s the art world was very much involved with abstraction and they there
was figurative art but it didn’t have much political content and Leon Gallup
these are almost larger than life-size figures pioneered the idea of specific
representation of this is a interrogation in
Nicaragua by the people trained in the school of Americas and you can see that
it looks like what we saw from Abu Ghraib the same kinds of torture in 1981
another artist who is based in Seattle was based in Seattle who addresses
torture today is some of almond this is sorry this is her black book of
aggressor she did a hundred and eighty drawings of chilean chalk of specific
images from the torture that was taking place in Abu Ghraib as well as
Guantanamo and she very specifically kind of in the spirit of Goya confronted
the details of what was happening so she wrote on the images the this is
waterboarding here strapped to the board upside down immersed here here’s his
head here immersed in a wet towel to fake drowning used to impose anguish
without leaving marks so she has a very specific and horrifying image but at the
same time she’s a brilliant draftsperson working with the expressionist tradition
and so the works over there on the Left there’s barbed wire and chains being
used the works themselves I’ll just go back to the wall become amazingly
aesthetic at the same time that they’re horrifyingly specific and it’s that
balance that is so hard to achieve this is her studio right before she died
when she was planning to do a work based on Goya’s horribly scary painting of
Saturn devouring his son and these were this is the way she works with all of
these notes in all of these images just putting it all together and and creating
these amazing drawings and she was going to address the idea of joy as victims
around the planet and that’s go as fortress right there okay and she was
also an activist this is if you that’s based on the Black
Anna by Kody kovetz and that’s her poster in a woman in black protest
that was a group of women that have protested silently against the
palestinian occupation and war as you see here in general okay Daniel Haman is
also mainly a printmaker and he worked with in many cases you see these artists
are not just in their studio he worked with a team of lawyers who were hired to
develop a class-action suit by prisoners released from Abu Ghraib and you can’t
sue the US government so they were going to sue the military contractors who
perpetrated the torture at Abu Ghraib and Haman went to the interviews that
the lawyers had in Istanbul he took a plate with him a edging plate
and he did portraits of these people as they told their story and he wrote into
the plate and you all know he wrote backwards right if you know how
printmaking works he wrote backwards what they were saying the detailed
description of what they were saying on the plate and then he created these
amazing and horrifying prints which he has shown around the country they are
not for sale of course it would just not be
appropriate to sell something like this but he is an artist I discuss at length
how did he come about being so engaged how did he come about caring so much how
do any of these artists decide to care so much and it’s it’s very important to
know their stories you can find it in the book okay the artists on the cover
of my book is Roger Shimomura and in his case the police state he’s addressing is
the world war two US government that was incarcerated or interning Japanese
people on the west coast and there was this infamous order which
ordered all people of Japanese descent to
be sent to camps on the west coast and he has a three year old went with his
mother and grandmother and sister to a camp but in 2006 and he’s done many many
series of works about that experience but in 2006 as the fear mongering and
the detentions were building up around Arabs and now we have the the whole
immigration horror he revisited that subject of surveillance in this painting
which is a huge painting four panels and we are up here as the people doing the
surveying the people observing and this is the camp in the desert where he was
in central Idaho and you see the influence of Japanese art with these
clouds and the whole sense of the landscape but what he’s saying is don’t
forget notice our surveillance today is so much like what we experienced when we
were very young he being a three year old in the camp but Roger Shimomura who
is now a retired professor from the University of Kansas and spent his life
addressing issues around prejudice and racism so I just wanted to show you one
other example because he’s really very funny too and this is from a group of
works called stereotypes and admonitions I actually brought the book with me and
this is a in a pop art style as you can see and he’s done a caricature of
himself on the right as a samurai warrior with all this painting and on
the left you see a famous of a caricature representation of an Indian
but it’s actually representing a very prestigious contemporary Native American
artist named Edgar heap of birds here’s he always showed these works with
a story don’t really have time for this but I’m going to do it anyway in the
1980s Native American artist Edgar heap of birds was awarded a guest artist
residency at the University of Kansas Rodger accompanied Edgar to obtain the
signature I thought this was good because we’re here and this is sort of
thing we do the signature of a university
straighter in order for Edgar to receive payment for his services
upon entering the central administration building Roger handed the papers to a
receptionist who took them into the administrator’s office prior to signing
the administrator peered out at Roger and Edgar and said derisive Lea in a
voice loud enough for all to hear I want you to check the IDS of those two
characters out there he then laughed out loud shaking his head as he stared at
them so he kind of nails the way he felt in Kansas as a japanese-american eration
japanese-american and the idea you know of this sort of oblivious racism that
permeates our society it’s work is really a brilliant another Native
American artist that I discuss in the book in the context of resistance to
police states is Shaun quick to see Smith although she is actually in the
Ecological chapter she works in the inner interspace between Anglo culture
and native culture right there’s a lot of detail here that I think I won’t go
into but I just want to mention her father was a horse trader and so she
spent her childhood trading between races she moved around from place to
place and so her work is about the stereotypes that one culture has for the
other mainly the white culture has for Indians on the right this huge trade
canoe and it has all these baseball hats and all these feathers and all these
sort of stereotype things on the left you see an image that relates to war and
and an oppression very poignant image but she brings together the native
vocabulary and mainstream modernist technique of beautiful color and
abstract brushstroke and all of these different collage techniques let’s see
five of eight this is an exhibition that started in
South Dakota that’s not very far from here is it is it just west – not far
whichever way west is by a curator at the Univ of art at the University of
South Dakota I believe who grew up on an Indian Reservation and became very aware
of oppression she observed it around her and as an adult curator she has taken a
stand to do politically engaged exhibitions this one about artists
addressing those people who were disappeared by police states in
Argentina Brazil Chile Colombia Guatemala Uruguay and Venezuela and this
particular work in the show is actually like a piece of glass that’s been sliced
and it’s about the artists father who was disappeared when the artist was just
a baby and his father was a journalist and he just vanished disappeared means
you don’t really know whether they’re loving or dead you never see them again
and so you see the image of the father’s portrait only in one position it keeps
disappearing when you look from other directions so it’s a brilliant I mean
the idea of representing the disappear right there is a hard idea and he had a
brilliant idea I’m going to move along here so I I’m going to just mention that
that show is discussed in detail in the book and will because we need to move
along so the another theme in the book is women worn imperialism and the
artists again that I’m starting with is Goya and this is an image of women who
have been raped in war and then in our contemporary world you have artists like
this collage artist named Deborah Lawrence she works on ten TV trays some
of you might remember ten TV trays there they’re thrift store items now and so
from an artist point of view no framing expenses no no none of that but she she
does collage and these are two images of women in war the woman on the Left
covered in a burqa surrounded by plain and consumerism on the left and mosque
on the right and there’s a great long statement in the middle which I won’t
read about women’s position in war and on the Left covered with corporate logos
so she’s talking about the position of women in capitalism and war which of
course are interrelated koko Fusco is another artist who addresses women in
war but in a very different way she does performance work which calls attention
to the role of women in the military today and in her particular case she’s
talking in this performance that I’m showing you she wrote this book called a
field guide for female interrogators and there is a picture on the right which
tells you what she’s talking about she’s saying you know the incredible idea the
incredibly offensive idea that women’s liberation is here the idea of
culturally specific sexual behavior is being used to torture Muslim men and
this is of course a mild example where she’s just bending over with her bras
showing but it was in fact a technique that was used in Abu Ghraib and some of
you may know about that so the coercive techniques were undressing waving
Underpants flaunting sexuality and this idea of perverting feminism through this
flagrant violation of cultural norms in a Muslim culture is something that she
addresses which i think is really really interesting and important subject martha
Rossler has also addressed the dialectic between women and war this is a series
from 1969 the idea of the domesticity of the woman in the foreground and
vacuuming her curtain and then the war the war is going on behind the curtain
the the sense of obliviousness of the consumer culture – war is is her theme
in this series as well as in this 2004 series about the iraq war where now we
have the bluff the buff blondes looking at the
or on the cellphone while all hell is breaking out loose behind them so she’s
taken exactly the same subject of consumerism and obliviousness and war
and brought it up to the present I’m just going to move along here so my last
theme is the idea of border crossings and the border that I’m addressing in
this short section is Mexican border the maquiladoras or golden factories in the
free trade zones I started with the issue of free trade with the women’s
with the World Trade Organization protests the free trade zones on the
border of Mexico in the US and just as a little change of pace
there I am I actually got to visit them that’s me
sliding around and these are the Huddle’s that the workers in the
factories on the border live in when they first arrive as squatters and then
when they get a little better off they live in these little houses that have
one little bit of electricity I visited there after I wrote the book but it was
really very very educational so the idea of these free trade areas is that the
workers don’t don’t have the opportunity to unionize or if they do it’s a rigged
system and they get fired right away these are a couple of the factories
older factory here maquiladoras and a newer factory with an armed guard
outside these factories produce today electronic equipment back when they were
first started as free trade factories they did tape cassettes and things like
that they use a lot of toxic materials in their manufacturing and a lot of
women are employed because it’s small it’s small technical work so there is
enormous exploitation of women in this area and we all know that it extends of
course to the production of factories workers in Asia now too after this last
year of exposure of the conditions that Asian workers are dealing with Chinese
workers so an artist in my book flat Fred lonna dear started addressing the
health and safety issues factory workers way back in the 1980s
and he’s still addressing them today he took a big truck and parked it outside
the factory with educational material in this free trade zone to tell people what
their rights were and how they could get better protections I’ve tried to
organize try to get the health conditions that they needed etc so he is
a photographer background sociology background and he has really taken an
active part in trying to make the workers lives better in these border
areas another approach is Celia Munoz whose mother worked in an in one of
these factories not before they were free trade but still across a border and
she’s addressing the idea of fabric production with these giant giant
Suede’s of fabric that suggests the seduction of the consumer culture and
the result many of these women are murdered because they are living outside
of any kind of traditional social structures they’re very vulnerable as
they go from these Huddle’s to the factories and they’re often murdered
have you heard of the Juarez murders any of you it’s a it’s just it’s a huge
horrible thing and they often the only thing that’s found from these women who
work here are their shoes so this installation is honoring women who were
killed and then I saw this piece in San Diego when I lectured there it’s a
collective anonymous work by people honoring people that died crossing the
border and this is just a few names so one other border which is a went right
by it the border in the Middle East the many borders in the Middle East of which
we hear so much about right now and the border that I’m addressing here
is Palestine and Israel this artist is Palestinian artist and
she did a video based on the music of 2001 a Space Odyssey and she created the
she went on a trip to the moon in the video and then she
landed the Palestinian flag on the moon and then she floated off into outer
space because Palestinians can’t go home because their their place doesn’t exist
so this is an artist working with that border and suggesting a very original
way of thinking about it and then finally to Iraqi emigres artists who had
to cross the border out of their countries in to other countries because
of our war Hana mala law who was living in England and she burns her canvas this
is burned canvas that she’s putting back together talking about the burning of
the culture of Baghdad she was a very prominent art teacher in Baghdad and now
she’s living just barely managing in London and you see or hear working with
this burned canvas and finally another Iraqi emigres who’s doing an homage to
the academics assassinated in Iraq it’s not very well known that all the middle
class a lot of the middle class professionals in Iraq have been targeted
by snipers and he’s addressing only the academics with this reference to the
Trojan horse and and these roses so I wanted to end with these two Iraqi
artists in England in London to suggest that this border crossing theme extends
in many many different ways and in many different dimensions and the theme of
the whole lecture is to cross the border between the field of cultural production
and the field of power thank you so so so so so so

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